How to make German “Rumtopf”
This year, I’ve started a little project that I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now, but I always remembered it too late: I’m making my own “Rumtopf” this year!
Now, if you’re lucky, you know what a Rumtopf is, and if you’re super lucky, you’ve actually tasted it, too! For the unlucky ones among you, here’s the quick rundown: Rumtopf is German for “rum pot”, and it’s basically fruit that has soaked in rum and sugar for an extended period of time. Fruit, alcohol, and sugar – it’s the perfect mix!
Rum pots were invented in order to preserve summer fruit for the winter months (at least that’s the official explanation, I believe – personally, I think people just wanted yet another way to get drunk, this time sweet and fruity). And who could blame them?
Now, rum pots aren’t just done by throwing some random type of fruit, rum, and sugar together and waiting a couple of months. Instead, every month during the summer and early fall, a different type of seasonal fruit is added to the mix. Typically, you’d start in May or June with strawberries, but – YET AGAIN – I remembered a bit too late, so I when I started my Rumtopf, strawberries weren’t that great anymore. Instead, we got beautiful, juicy, sweet Danish cherries. The last fruit you add is typically in October or November, and then you have to wait – the rum pot may first be enjoyed during Christmas time (starting on the first advent Sunday).
My time struggles were further exacerbated by the fact that you need a relatively specific type of pot to make a Rumtopf. It should be a ceramic or stone pot with a lid that closes tightly, because you don’t want any air or light in there while everything is soaking together. I looked on DBA and in German antique stores on a trip to visit the family, but typically these pots can carry 5 liters or more, which is decidedly too big for what I’m planning. So I went to Creative Space and painted my own little rum pot!
Here are the basics of making a rum pot:
- Every month, you add fruit that’s in season – see the table below for some typical fruits that you can use. It’s vital that you only use fruit that is in perfect condition, with no scratches or dents in it. Wash the fruit thoroughly and pat it dry – you don’t want any water in the rum pot.
- You add sugar to the mix – some recipes call for equal amounts of sugar and fruit, but others say that that makes it way too sweet. I’ve decided to opt for a “middle ground” solution: for the first and last batch of fruit, I’ll add the same amount of sugar (in grams), whereas I’m halving the sugar for all other fruit. So for my first fruit, I used 250g cherries and 250g sugar, but when I add the next, I’m going to go with 250g of fruit and 125g sugar.
- It is absolutely imperative that you use rum that has at least 54% alcohol. This is needed to make sure the fruit is preserved and doesn’t start going bad! I looked around at normal grocery stores without any luck, so my sister brought me a bottle from Germany, but I’m sure you can find it in Denmark, too. No need to use anything expensive, a cheap bottle will do.
- The fruit should ALWAYS be fully covered by rum. In fact, the rum should be about a finger above the fruit – this is necessary to make sure the fruit doesn’t get moldy when in contact with oxygen. If your fruit starts floating, weigh it down with a small plate or saucer.
- Finally, the rum pot should be stored in a cool and dark place – NOT the fridge, though – basements are perfect.
Some people prefer to use cherries whole, stone included, to make sure they keep their form, but I can’t imagine it’d be fun to peel out the stones when you’re enjoying the finished rum pot, so I halved the cherries and took the stone out.
Add the washed and dried fruit into the pot and add your sugar. Leave it for about 30min before adding just enough rum to cover the fruit (and a little bit extra).
Then, cover the pot with some clingy wrap before putting the lid on, to make sure it’s absolutely sealed, and leave it in a cool, preferably dark place until you’re ready to add the next fruit!
Isn’t this pot cute?!
Here’s a little table for what fruits to use when, though feel free to mix and match your favorites:
|August||apricots or peaches (no skin, no stone, cut in halves)
|September/ October||pears (peeled, cored, and cut into chunks)|
|October/ November||pineapple (cut into chunks)|
Then, in December, you can enjoy the Rumtopf on its own, or as a topping e.g. for vanilla pudding or ice cream. You can even add some sparkling wine and make a sort of punch!
What do you think – sound good? There’s still some time for you to start your own rum pot!